A Gorgeous Family-Friendly Shooter – Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle For Neighborville Review

Intro:

Who would’ve foreseen the classic Plants Vs. Zombies strategy game morph into a chaotic, third-person arena shooter. Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is the third instalment to the seizure-inducing Garden Warfare series. This time round, the devs over at PopCap have taken the classic Garden Warfare formula and doused it in confetti, creating this creative mess of a third person shooter. I think it worked rather well in their favour.

Here’s why:

Gameplay:

Starting off with gameplay, Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville works more or less on the same basis as the prequel. 

As for the multiplayer, you currently have access to a total of 20 characters; 10 on the Plants team and the other 10 from the zombies team. I’m quite pleased to find that each character for the most part has a completely unique playstyle. This adds a lot of diversity and can allow for detailed tactics and strategies to be employed.

Multiplayer:

While this is all great, as of right now there are some severe fundamental issues with the multiplayer aspect of this game that makes it very difficult to recommend. The first of which is the utterly abysmal hit registration. Blatant headshots often don’t register at all and I often times found myself unloading entire mags of ammo into enemies only for 50% of them to hit. I was disadvantaged and often times annoyed that such an issue still exists in 2019. The second major flaw is the constant FPS stuttering. Mostly multiplayer is affected however you can still notice some slight choppiness in singleplayer. I however, am not too concerned with this issue as a recent patch has reduced the stutter a lot. I’m assuming this issue can be swiftly resolved within a matter of months.

I’m just agitated that this game was even allowed to ship with such issues like these. I was thoroughly disappointed after discovering these in multiplayer for the first time. 

However, issues aside, the gamemodes are very unique and are a nice refreshing break from standard modes such as CTF, or team deathmatch. Etc. The variety of characters also work well in such a game as they follow a complex version of the rock-paper-scissors dynamic. Some characters are strong against others and will 90% of the time win in a 1v1 situation, however each character has their weakness, which can be used to the players’ advantage if the correct character is chosen.

Campaign:

As for the campaign, well it was quite frankly a bit dull. Sure I wasn’t expecting raging battles and insanely challenging levels as this game is intended for a younger audience, however at least some kind challenging side mission would be nice to have. Or even a difficulty scaler. All of the missions were rather straightforward, requiring you to simply collect certain objects or take down certain enemies.

There are also plenty of hidden collectables scattered around the map for you to spend hours looking for, however I’m not really that type of person and such activities don’t really interest me.

Graphics:

Here is where the biggest improvements came from. The upgrade from PVZ:GW2 to this is monumental. Each character has incredible amounts of detail to them, with visible scars, scratches and bruises. Shading as well was absolutely flawless. Each characters shadows were prominent and very realistic, adding to the overall gorgeous aesthetic.

Colours are vivid, making each object, no matter how small, stand out. The game feels like an animated cartoon world, mostly because they’ve managed to use the entire colour spectrum as part of game design. I personally think PopCap have truly outdone themselves in this sector.

Controls + Optimisation:

Controls were not bad. No key felt strange or out of place, except for the fact that to use your 3 abilities, you had to press Q, 2 and E respectively. The second ‘2’ ability was a bit strange as I associate numbers with changing weapons, however a lot of the other keys near my hand were already in use so I just decided to learn to use ‘2’ to activate my second ability.

Unfortunately, this game is not very well optimised, meaning that budget PCs will struggle to hit a consistent 60 FPS. Mid-tier PCs should be able to hit a comfortable and consistent framerate (80-90 FPS), however stutters may still be unavoidable. I personally, was able to hit an almost consistent 120 FPS throughout, except during intense multiplayer battles where my frames would drop to about 90.

Final Verdict:

If you’re a fan of the Garden Warfare series, then by all means go ahead and get this game. It is an experience akin to the previous instalments however it has just enough new content to keep you entertained. 

If the blindingly colourful nature of this game caught your eye, then I recommend you wait for a sale to buy it as the price will come down to a much more reasonable value. Also hopefully by then PopCap would have released patches to fix some of its core issues. Black Friday is coming up on the 29th of November, so I’d wait till then to purchase it.

Score: 6.7/10

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